A Muddle in Messina – Photo by Jenny Harper

One of the best things about our job is being on the road. We get to visit some wonderful places touring Much Ado, and spend time in the company of people who have been fans of Broadsides for years. It’s a privilege. With our ‘A Muddle in Messina’ companion piece (aimed at children aged 5-11 as an introduction to Shakespeare) we are reaching out to a new audience of people. Theatre is about so much more than just what happens in the building itself. A theatre is part of a community, and we become a part of that community when we reside there.

My first job out of drama school was a 2 month tour with the Glasgow based Arches Theatre Company. We performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a fortnight at the Citizens Theatre before heading off in a van and a minibus around the Scottish highlands, and it was amazing. I was awestruck with the wonderful people we met, and places we visited. More recently I worked with Mikron Theatre Company, touring the canals and waterways of England one pub at a time, steering narrowboat Tyseley in the glorious summer sunshine (except for when it absolutely bucketed down) It was an absolute joy to meet people, share our stories with them, and be part of their lives for a while.

James in rehearsals – Photo by Nobby Clark

And so to our tour of Much Ado. We rehearsed and played for 3 weeks at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, a lovely theatre, and a great bit of the world to spend some time. The audiences were fab, so welcoming (and after nearly two months I had just about got my head around the ‘6 towns of Stoke’!) After that our first stop was Lancaster with its beautiful castle. The Dukes is a lovely welcoming theatre, and again audiences were so pleased to see us.

Last week we were Scarborough at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Despite storm Gareth the sun shone and, for us, it felt like we were on holiday! During the course of our time there we managed to cram in several portions of Haddock and Chips. After one particular visit to The Fish Pan, Heather and I were so busy chattering over our cups of tea that we lost track of the time and only just made it back. Additionally there were multiple ice creams, walks on the beach, walks around the castle, trips up and down the cliff lifts and of course the amusements. On our final day I met a friend for breakfast in the Harbour Bar (a Scarborough stalwart, as personally recommended by our MD Bex Hughes) where we each had a huge bacon bap and then, on some strange impulse, decided to share a peach Melba.

Much Ado About Nothing – Photo by Nobby Clark

I’m currently writing this while we are in Salisbury. A tour of the Cathedral spire was recommended, so several of us are booked in for Friday, and I’m sure that most of the rest will follow suit. As I was booking the tickets for the tour at the Cathedral information desk, it came into conversation that I was part of the Much Ado cast, and it turned out the lady behind the desk happened to be letting a room to Rob for the duration of our visit to the Playhouse. Pretty soon we were discussing what a lovely place Salisbury is, how lovely the theatre is, and Rob’s exercise regime of course!
A strangely small, but very friendly world.
By James McLean